Though we’re pretty confident when it comes to our beer history these days — or at least the bit between 1963 and now — we’re still very much learning when it comes to tasting beer.
We can’t usually identify specific hop varieties, for example, so we have to make do with spotting big, obvious characteristics* — playing with the Duplo, rather than the Technics.
Though serious tasters apparently consider it rather crude, we still find ‘hoppy’ a useful word, at least when we’re talking to each other. It means, to us, a beer in which the dominant ingredient is hops.
(‘Hoppy and malty’, we agree, is therefore not a helpful tasting note.)
The doodle above is a version of something that we scribbled in notebook over a few beers, as we attempted to understand the various types of hoppy we are capable of perceiving.
STEWED is the one that’s newest to us — until recently, we’d hardly had any beers that had a ton of hops without also having a ton of obvious aroma.
The historical pale ales we tried at the Birmingham Beer Bash tasted strongly of hops without having much aroma at all; Marston’s Old Empire IPA might be another example. Are there others that you can point us towards?
And which beers (ideally readily-available in the UK) do you think best exemplify our other sub-categories?
* How much do we actually want to learn? Maybe not too much more. And aren’t most people who claim to be able to spot this hop or that… bullshitting?